So here’s my rant for today. And while it’s not a new one as I am sure there is some other gay writer out there blogging that while gay men are constantly striving for acceptance and tolerance from a generally homophobic world, we often are our own worst enemy.
I got to re-thinking about it from this HuffPo interview (from outgoing Ahmed Shihab-Eldin – who’s reports I’ll miss greatly): You can read it here.
I am not limiting this to just the social circle either. I’ll post my thoughts on that topic in another stream of consciousness later cause I got LOTS to say on that topic alone.
Let me make a case for how it even happens in the media:
I was at Comic Con in San Diego (the only one that counts BTW (Sorry NYC – you’ve got B’way – leave So Cal a crumb, will ya?)) once where there was a discussion panel (the room was packed to the hilt – standing room only) for this particular show that was all the rage a couple of years ago (flash forward – it was cancelled shortly there after).
I won’t necessarily name the show because it would be pointless at this juncture since it has long been relegated to the netflix/pirate download universe, but suffice to say that it was a hot show at the time. Anyway, the panel of production crew for this show was asked about the inclusion of a gay character as a secondary lead if not main character of the show. The screenwriters jumped right into the fray and said that they were just in the midst of planning such an arc and they couldn’t wait to get started on it. It would come with the following season – they were sorry that the show had to go three seasons in before they could get to it but they were really excited about it. The audience (even for a few years ago) seemed rather pleased about this little announcement (okay, I’ll confess that it was an LGBT panel that is held every year at Comic Con). The two screenwriters of the show were, in fact, gay and were really happy that they got the green light with this particular arc. All seemed good, right?
Yeah, well, at the time I remember grousing to myself (I tend to grouse alot with unspoken angst over what comes out of these Hollywood types at these events), that why did we wait 3 seasons to get to the damned arc? Why are we left in the closet and have our stories sidelined by our own people? Yeah, i know, they gotta get work too and they’ve got the twat head producers to please who are only in it for the buck (despite all the flowery words about creative process and their vision and all the other hooey they throw our way – it’s all UTTER BULLSHIT).
The following March (on the eve of when this hot show was to start shooting) the show was cancelled. So guess what? No gay character arc, no gay storylines – once again our story is left on the cutting room floor – only worse, this one never got shot to begin with (HUGE STEP BACKWARD, if you ask me).
But it’s not the only instance of this happening – Greg Berlanti (who is gay) of ‘The Tomorrow People” (TTP) said the same damned thing about TTP. When HuffPo asked him about his not having a gay character in TTP he said that one was coming in season two and it was gonna be great (are ya starting to see a trend here?). SO that show got cancelled this past April. So here we are yet again – another fucking blown opportunity. Though to be fair he gives a much more lengthy explanation here. Yet, I can’t help but feel that he could’ve done better. How about this Mr. Berlanti – let’s not ‘wait for a creative moment to put in a gay character that will stick around –
…how about we have one from the VERY BEGINNING THAT’S INTEGRAL TO THE SHOW? Yeah, let’s start with that… whaddaya say? Huh?
The general straight populace isn’t ever going to get used to us if our shit ain’t out there, folks! Are ya listening, Hollyweird?
Next up, The Vampire Diaries –
Now, aside from the fact that Ian Somerhalder’s Damon walks that same homo-erotic line with his other male leads in that Mick Jagger sort of metro-sexual swagger, TVD has had NO GAY CHARACTERS for years now! I was a fan of the show but was growing increasingly bored with the fucking boozing and rampant straight sexual situations that we were being inundated with. Why hasn’t MADD gone after this show? This show has more drinking (even when they were in fucking high school (and DON’T get me started on how 30 something looking actors were just soooo wrong for a HIGH SCHOOL show). I never once bought the vixen trio of Elena, Bonnie and Caroline were EVER actually of a high school age. The casting director shoulda been hauled out and beaten with a wet noodle over that faux pas alone!
Anyway, so in this past season we FINALLY get A GAY CHARACTER (count ’em, ONE – in the whole fucking town of Mystic Falls or where ever they were now going to college – and we have to wait MANY seasons to find ONE?) What the muthafucking ever. And I am just counting the seconds til this new gay guy is bumped off. Cause you know it’s gonna happen. (And no, Glee doesn’t count because the entire premise of that show is gay from word go (and sadly sometimes in the worst way imaginable) – too much sometimes even for me to stomach on a weekly basis – and I have a background in musical theatre).
In fact, I can only think of TWO drama shows where the gay men actually make it to the end and they were secondary or main characters – Torchwood and Spartacus. In the pantheon of TV shows through out the years and we have these two shows to show for it? Okay, then there’s Felix from Orphan Black (BTW, I don’t know if you’re keeping score on this too but it seems that two out of the three shows I’ve named are British imports – only Spartacus is American produced).
Okay, and there’s True Blood – but even with Lafayette (on of my absolute favorites and not just because he’s slightly sterotypical but because Nelsan plays him with such pathos and depth that I am utterly fascinated by his portrayal). The same can be said of Jordan’s portrayal of Felix in Orphan Black. There are subtleties and layers that both actors bring to the table that are truly amazing to watch. THOSE are the types of characters our little gay village need.
And Sidebar: What the fuck is up with Lafayette losing Jesus? That was some messed up shit when their arc so wasn’t over – total missed opportunity. But that season’s writing was the almost the worst of the bunch. That is until the season of Billith. Now that season of TB was just plain out tragic.
Okay, I thought of another show that has a gay character prominent enough to warrant it’s own plot line – that one in Scandal (my daughter watches it religiously and keeps telling me I need to do so too). I was going to watch a marathon and catch up when i got wind of them killing off one of the two gay characters (for dramatic purposes). Yeah, you can bite me with your dramatic elements involving gay characters being ‘sacrificed’ for the dramatic cause. That’s SOOOOO 1980’s Dallas/Dynasty era (and I should know cause I was alive when those shows were running in their original time slots (NOT re-runs)).
In Torchwood we FINALLY have a gay character that can’t die (because he can’t die – it’s in the character write up). So yay for #TEAMGAY, yeah, hold up a minute. Turns out he can die – when the show doesn’t get renewed or languishes between seasons. Pasadena…
So guess what gay producers, writers and actors – be the muthafuckin’ change you want to have happen.
Y’all need to grow a pair and put our shit out there. Sorry if that sounds a bit forced, but I got a little Larry Kramer angst going on here from watching ‘The Normal Heart’ – a bloody brilliant movie – thanks Ryan Murphy for getting it out there. Try to remember what it was like when you were growing up starved for some recognition and figure out how to get it out there. And don’t shoot me that old line – gay characters don’t sell. Yeah, well maybe we have to shove a few down their throats until we get to a point where they become inured to it all. THEN we’ll have achieved something. If gay people can bore the crap out of straights like they do to themselves – then game over – mission accomplished.
But we ain’t there yet – not by a muthafuckin’ long shot.
So there was the first show I talked about, then TTP, then Vampire Diaries. That’s three shows, two of which utterly failed in producing a single strong gay character. While the actor playing Luke on VD seems to be a good one, I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to fall and he’ll get bumped off. That’s the modern message we get from these shows: if we finally do get around to putting one out there – yeah, well, it won’t last. It’s fleeting – just like we want the world to think we are in their lives – fleeting, passing through, an oddity to behold and then eschew like yesterdays bright wrapping paper after a successful party.
So over that way of thinking.
So I am constantly polling around – looking for gay men to satiate my thirst for something that reflects my life or at the very least, a form of my reality. But sadly, we’re still all too absent.
And here’s another little nugget of information – the M/M genre of novel writing is actually quite large and thriving and it’s reader base is primarily made up of women. So why aren’t we looking to satisfy the gay market for these ladies? Why aren’t we killing the both birds with the same literary stone? If we’re studying demographics and how to pitch and sell to them, then why aren’t we looking at these numbers then?
I get that it’s show BUSINESS and not show ART. I get it. But if we aren’t taking the necessary steps to have the same opportunity to bore the crap out of the straight audience because we are now just one of the crew, then how the hell are we ever going to make progress on a storytelling and visual level?
As a gay author, I wonder for long periods about that. Not that it pulls focus from my day or anything, but I do ponder it on the back burner. I only wish the screenwriters and producers who are gay and have dealt with the same struggles we all seem to have in common in this world, that they would do more, fight – hell, if we do have a gay mafia out there in Hollywood – then fucking act like some gay muthafuckin’ blinged out homo-thugs and DO SOMETHIN’ ‘BOUT IT!